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Golden Horse Awards’ Upset: Environmental ‘Western’ Beats International Hit

Kekexili Mountain Patrol Golden HorseKekexili: Mountain Patrol: The Golden Horse Awards’ upset winner. Less well known internationally than several of its competitors, Lu Chuan’s environmentally conscious Tibet-set “Western” depicts the clash between local rangers and greedy poachers.
  • Lu Chuan’s environmentally conscious Tibet-set “Western” Kekexili: Mountain Patrol was the upset winner at this year’s Golden Horse Awards.
  • Equally surprising, the Golden Horse Awards almost completely bypassed Wong Kar-Wai’s all-star international hit 2046.

Environmentally conscious ‘Western’ Kekexili: Mountain Patrol is Golden Horse Awards’ surprise Best Film

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

Chinese filmmaker Lu Chuan’s second feature – the little-known internationally, environmentally conscious Tibet-set “Western” Kekexili: Mountain Patrol – was the Sino-focused Golden Horse Awards’ Best Film upset, beating, among others, Wong Kar-Wai’s all-star hit 2046. This year’s winners were announced at a Dec. 4 ceremony at Zhongshan Hall in Taichung, in central Taiwan. (See further below the full list of this year’s Golden Horse winners.)

Inspired by Peng Hui’s documentary Balance and real-life events that took place in the mid-1990s, Kekexili: Mountain Patrol is set in northwestern Tibet’s remote Kekexili a.k.a. Qinghai Hoh Xil region – “the largest and highest plateau in the world,” according to UNESCO.

The film chronicles the fight between local rangers eager to protect their surroundings, which happen to be an intrinsic part of the local culture, and greedy poachers intent on killing off the endangered Tibetan antelope because there’s money to be made.

Curiously, Kekexili: Mountain Patrol ended up winning only one other Golden Horse Award: Best Cinematography for Cao Yu – doing the sort of mood-enhancing and landscape-exalting work that Winton C. Hoch did on John Ford’s color Westerns like 3 Godfathers, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, and The Searchers.

Winners Andy Lau & Yang Kuei-Mei

Hong Kong star Andy Lau was given the Best Actor Golden Horse for his performance in the cop drama Infernal Affairs III, while veteran Taiwanese actress Yang Kuei-Mei topped the Best Actress category for her portrayal of a rebellious teenager’s emotionally repressed mother in Lin Cheng-sheng’s 1960s-set melancholy family drama The Moon Also Rises.

The Best Director was Hong Kong filmmaker Johnnie To for the action thriller Breaking News, starring Richie Jen and Kelly Chen.

Bai Ling was chosen Best Supporting Actress for her work in Fruit Chan’s horror thriller Dumplings*, while Daniel Wu was the Best Supporting Actor for Benny Chan’s Hong Kong actioner New Police Story.

2046 Zhang Ziyi2046 with Zhang Ziyi: Golden Horse surprise. Wong Kar-Wai’s international hit 2046 had been shortlisted for eight Golden Horse Awards, but ultimately topped a mere two categories.

All-star international hit 2046 bypassed in most categories

Nominated for eight Golden Horse Awards, including Best Film (but not Best Director), Won Kar-Wai’s international hit and European Film Award winner 2046 ultimately topped only two categories:

  • Best Original Score (Shigeru Umebayashi & Peer Raben).
  • Best Art Direction (William Chang & Yau Wai Ming).

Sounds bad, but that’s two more statuettes than those won by Pedro Almodóvar’s Bad Education at the European Film Awards.

* Fruit Chan’s Dumplings was initially released as part of the three-segment feature Three… Extremes. (The other two segments were directed by Takashi Miike and Park Chan-wook.) With an hour of extra footage, an extended version of Dumplings came out in August in Hong Kong.

Golden Horse Awards: Winners & partial list of nominees

The Golden Horse Awards are given to films produced in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China (of which Hong Kong is a part, yes). Below is the full list of winners and a partial list of nominees.

* Kekexili Mountain Patrol.
Breaking News.
The Moon Also Rises.
One Nite in Mongkok.

* Johnnie To, Breaking News.
Fruit Chan, Dumplings.
Derek Yee, One Nite in Mongkok.
Lu Chuan, Kekexili Mountain Patrol.

* Andy Lau, Infernal Affairs III.
Jacky Cheung, Golden Chicken 2.
Tony Leung Chiu-wai, 2046.
Duobuji, Kekexili Mountain Patrol.

* Yang Kuei-Mei, The Moon Also Rises.
Zhang Ziyi, 2046.
Sylvia Chang, Rice Rhapsody.
Chuan Wang, Autumn of Blue.

Supporting Actor
* Daniel Wu, New Police Story.
Eric Kot, A-1 Headline.
Tony Leung Kar-fai, A-1 Headline.
Cheung Siu Fai, Throw Down.

Supporting Actress
* Bai Ling, Dumplings.
Kate Yeung, 20 30 40.
Lee Sinje, 20 30 40.
Eugenia Yuan, The Eye 2.

New Performer (tie)
* Tony Yang Yu-Nin, Formula 17.
* Hong Hao-Xuan, Bear Hug.
James Shen, Splendid Float.
Tian Yuan, Butterfly.

Original Screenplay
* Yau Nai Hoi, Yip Tin Shing & Au Kin Yee, Throw Down.
Huang Li-Ming & Shaudi Wang, Bear Hug.
Lu Chuan, Kekexili: Mountain Patrol.
Cheng Wen-tang & Cheng Ching-Feng, The Passage.

Adapted Screenplay
* Lin Cheng Sheng, The Moon Also Rises.
Yan Yan Mak, Butterfly.
Lee Chi-Ngai, Magic Kitchen.

* Chronicle of Sea Nan-Fang Ao, dir.: Hsiang-Hsiu Lee.
Shihkang Story, dir.: Ku Hsiu-Fei.
Stone Dream, dir.: Hu Tai-li.

* Cao Yu, Kekexili Mountain Patrol.
Christopher Doyle, Lai Yiu-Fai & Kwan Pung-Leung, 2046.
Keung Kwok-Man, One Nite in Mongkok.
Yang Wei-Han & Shong Woon-Chong, The Moon Also Rises.

Film Editing
* David Richardson, Breaking News.
Chi Wai Yau, New Police Story.
Chen Po-Wen & Liu Chun-Hsiu, Stone Dream.
Fruit Chan & Chan Ki-Hop, Dumplings.

Original Film Score
* Shigeru Umebayash & Peer Raben, 2046.
Masahiro Kawasaki, Rice Rhapsody.
George Chen, Jeng-Yu Chang, Yu-Wei Chang & Jung Guo Dong, Splendid Float.
Giong Lim, The World.

* McDull Prince De La Bun, dir.: Toe Yuen.
The Butterfly Lovers, dir.: Tsai Ming-chin.

Art Direction: William Chang & Yau Wai Ming, 2046.

Original Film Song: “Floating Water Splendor,” by Jeng-Yu Chang & Chien-Chi Chen (composers); Zero Chou (lyricist); James Chen (performer), from Splendid Float.

Make up & Costume Design: Jean Chen & Wei-Joung Lai, Splendid Float.

Visual Effects: Victor Wong & Brian Ho, New Police Story.

Action Choreography: Lee Chung Chi & Jo Stunt Team, New Police Story.

Sound Effects: Cao Yuan-Fong, The Passage.

Short Film: The Magical Washmachine, dir.: Lee Yun Chan.

Lifetime Achievement Award: A-Pi Po.

Taiwanese Film of the Year: Splendid Float, dir.: Zero Chou.

Taiwanese Filmmaker of the Year: Chen Bo-Wen for Stone Dream.

“Golden Horse Awards’ Upset” endnotes

Golden Horse Awards website.

Kekexili: Mountain Patrol image: Samuel Goldwyn Films.

Zhang Ziyi 2046 image: Block 2 Pictures.

“Golden Horse Awards’ Upset: Environmental ‘Western’ Beats International Hit” last updated in September 2021.

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